May 17, 2003
Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke delivered this speech to the graduating class on Saturday (5/17).
Purdue President Jischke calls graduates to service
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke today (Saturday, 5/17) encouraged new graduates at commencement to accept the responsibility that accompanies the recognition they receive with their diploma.
After congratulating parents for also surviving the long journey on the road to education, Jischke asked graduates to remember those who helped them succeed in their academic career. He then recounted the story of Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who spent time in four German concentration camps. Jischke said Frankl, who delivered many speeches in the United States, had a particular request to erect a statue on the West Coast.
"Frankl wanted the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast to be complemented by this new work on the West Coast that would be called the Statue of Responsibility," Jischke said. "This is what he said: 'There is no such thing as freedom (or liberty) all by itself. Freedom is always preceded by responsibility; they are connected to one another. It is a mistake to pursue freedom without the consideration of responsibility.'"
Quoting from American humorist Will Rogers, American educator Booker T. Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, Jischke told graduates that Frankl and other great leaders were right to insist that Americans have a responsibility to serve others. He then provided specific suggestions:
"As you receive your diplomas today, you are accepting a responsibility a responsibility to volunteer in your communities; to take an active role in the government, political and civic processes. You are accepting a responsibility to participate in parent-teacher organizations, school boards, community councils and commissions, art councils, civic action and neighborhood groups, and labor organizations. "
Jischke encouraged graduates not to shy away from the electoral process.
"You are accepting a responsibility to run for public office when you are needed. We need the best and brightest in community, state and national positions of public trust. You are accepting a responsibility to conduct yourself, in personal and professional life, according to the highest ethical standards you have learned at Purdue. With this diploma you are accepting a responsibility to people; to help them overcome hunger and poverty; to help them find opportunity and a better life."
Jischke also recommended reading "The Lorax," by Dr. Seuss, which calls on readers to make a difference.
Quoting the children's book, Jischke said, "'Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Jischke promised graduates that in serving others, they would learn a great deal and find fulfillment. Reminding students that they are among the "best and brightest of this generation," Jischke also encouraged graduates to support Purdue so future generations can benefit from the same educational opportunities they received.
This was the 189th commencement at Purdue. Approximately 5,600 students 4,413 of whom are undergraduates will be awarded degrees during four ceremonies this weekend in the Elliott Hall of Music on the West Lafayette campus.
Kristina A. Ludwig, a graduate of the School of Consumer and Family Sciences from Germantown, Tenn., and Kylee K. Bassett, a graduate of the School of Education from Howe, Ind., provided class responses at today's ceremonies.
Jonathan P. Stanner, a graduate of the School of Management from Howe, Ind., and Kari A. Harness-Terzino, a graduate of the School of Liberal Arts from Mill Creek, Ind., will provide the class responses at Sunday's (5/18) ceremonies.
Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
Xiangyu Liu, from Wuhan City, China, celebrates with daughter Sarah today (Saturday, 5/17) after receiving his animal science degree during morning commencement ceremonies at Purdue University's West Lafayette campus. A second commencement ceremony takes place today, and two ceremonies on Sunday (5/18). Approximately 5,600 students - 4,413 of whom are undergraduates - will be awarded degrees during the four ceremonies this weekend in the Elliott Hall of Music. (Purdue News Service photo/Mark Simons)
Bethany Madsen, of Indianapolis, calls family members after receiving her consumer and family sciences degree today (Saturday, 5/17) during morning commencement ceremonies at Purdue Universityıs West Lafayette campus. A second commencement ceremony takes place today, and two ceremonies on Sunday (5/18). Approximately 5,600 students - 4,413 of whom are undergraduates - will be awarded degrees during the four ceremonies this weekend in the Elliott Hall of Music. (Purdue News Service photo/Mark Simons)
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